ballard

Great tribute by Mike Moorcock over at Ballardian. Mike supported Ballard (& Ballard supported him) when that was a harder & lonelier task. I didn’t know Ballard well, & I turned up at New Worlds a bit late for the main event. But what I remember about those times was being stunned–given pause–by his first collection of stories; & how ludicrously hard you had to work to persuade anyone to read one of the strongest writers of the second half of the 20th Century. It’s a disgrace that it took so long. But the great disgrace is that it’s still happening. I don’t doubt there are manuscripts lying around trade publishers’ offices which have been scoffed at in exactly the terms which greeted, say, The Drought or Crash. There isn’t any room for complacency over this. There never will be.

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7 responses to “ballard

  1. Krishna

    You just couldn’t let the shallow post lie, could you? (In spite of the glorious prospect of cosmic rum and raspberry crumble)

    And yes, it *is* easy to forget decades after the event about the cultural ground that has been won, and hard won, by forerunners such as Ballard.

  2. Martin

    A very good notice.

    And Ballard’s lack of true recognition is still a disgrace. Listening to the BBC, there was a sense that he’d written one “real” novel, but also some stuff about consumer fetishism, which (fortunately) we needn’t bother about because it’s all a bit obscure and doesn’t really have anything to do with us. Next?

    Perhaps, by way of tribute, we should organise the simultaneous draining of every swimming pool in the Home Counties. It would be a start.

  3. orfanum

    From where do we now fly the banner of liberation? This goes back a long way: the Victorian and Edwardian Bohemians, the Modernists of the 1920s and 1930s; these latter were hard times to be different, despite the greater meta-narratives of psychology and quantum physics, of surrealism and dada; then came the 1960s and 1970s (I was 10 in 1975, so I was not exactly at the forefront of such things, so will happily stand correction), when we experienced the next push, slightly aping the first liberation – now we have Nokia-wielding, Nike-wearing protestation at what, exactly? The tangibility of the things to be pushed against has dissolved, and we swim in the polluted morass of it; aqua-lunging the depths, no longer holding our own breath. At the same time, we re-rehearse the arguments of the 19th Century (Science vs Religion, tribal wars in far-flung domains) and seem to have accepted a more insidious conservatism than that wielded by either Macmillan (smugness) or Thatcher (bean-counting Social Darwinism).

    Like Tristan Tzara we need to go back to what it means to pull words out of a hat, and throw back the wrath of even the formalized Avant-garde.

    I am in incoherent rant mode I know but feel wrecked with the feeling that we were never more apes than we are today.

  4. uzwi

    Hi orfanum. I think it’s more difficult to push now precisely because “the tangibility of things to be pushed against has dissolved”.

  5. When I first read Ballard (long long ago) I felt as if I was in the land of my own air. Here was someone who wrote a landscape perfectly suited to my own fringe state. He continued to get more intense and difficult and I will admit that some of the the later books were often (literally) hard to swallow–but that made him all the more of an artist at the spear point’s edge. Was he, then, pushing that much harder, or was I that much more complacent?
    I never found him less than seductive and contrarily a challenge to my comfort. I miss that atmosphere of home/strange.

  6. Dave

    >>I think it’s more difficult to push now precisely because “the tangibility of things to be pushed against has dissolved”.

    Oh, I don’t know. I’d kind of like to do horrible things to Geithner et al. And I’ve been walking in line (sans Nikes) with A New Way Forward recently.

    If there’s a good thing about living in Ballard’s world, it’s that, when crises arise, it becomes apparent where to push should you be inclined to do so. Whether pushing will do any good though…

  7. It was the same when John Fowles died. He was given fifteen seconds (just before the sport) on the news and the world was left with the impression he wrote a book made into a film. It’s heartbreaking that a corpus of work such as Ballard’s can be reduced in this way, but it in a world that turned out exactly as he prophesied, it is perhaps inevitable.

    As for the quality of work that never gets past the corporate slush pile, I could rant at Olympic level (and frequently do).